An advanced, electro-optical Israeli reconnaissance satellite was launched from central Israel at 4am local time on Monday morning, according to an announcement from the Israel Ministry of Defense.
The launch of the satellite, called Ofek 16, took place at a site in central Israel using a “Shavit” launcher.
The launch came about through a partnership between The Space Administration in the Directorate of Defense Research and Development (DDR&D), Israel Ministry of Defense (IMoD), and the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI).
Following the successful launch, the satellite has begun to obit around the earth and to transmit data, in accordance with original plans. IMoD and IAI engineers have started a series of pre-planned tests to determine the propriety and performance level of the satellite before it begins its full operational activities.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz called the successful launch of the Ofek 16 satellite overnight “yet another extraordinary achievement for the defense establishment, for the defense industries as a whole, and for the Israel Aerospace Industries in particular.”
“Technological superiority and intelligence capabilities are essential to the security of the State of Israel. The fact that Israel is one of the 13 countries in the world with satellite launching capabilities is not a given, and was made possible by the people who have been investing in these systems and advancing breakthrough capabilities over the years,” he said.
“We will continue to strengthen and maintain Israel’s capabilities on every front, in every place,” he added.
The Space Administration in the IMoD has led the development and production of the satellite and its launcher. IAI is the prime contractor, having assigned the program to its Systems, Missiles and Space Group together with the MLM Division, which is responsible for the development of the launcher. Elbit Systems is responsible for the development and production of the satellite’s advanced camera and payload.
The launch engines were developed by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and Tomer, a government-owned company. Additional companies have participated in the program, including Rokar and Cielo.
The first satellite in the Ofek series was launched in 1988.